Thursday, August 8, 2019

Review: The House of Sacrifice by Anna Smith Spark

The House of Sacrifice (Empires of Dust #3)The House of Sacrifice (Empires of Dust #3)
The House of Sacrifice (Empires of Dust #3) by Anna Smith Spark
Publication Date: August 13th, 2019
Paperback. 480 pages

About The House of Sacrifice:

"Marith's power is growing. His empire stretches across half the world, and allies are flocking to his banner to share the spoils of war. With Thalia ruling at his side they are unstoppable. 

But Marith is become increasingly mentally unstable and their victories cannot continue forever."

Reviews for books one and two:
The Court of Broken Knives
The Tower of Living and Dying

Now this was a satisfying ending to a truly remarkable trilogy that has left me speechless on more than one occasion.

The poetic and literature nature of Spark's writing has done nothing but flourish throughout this trilogy, and it remains as vibrant and immersive as ever in The House of Sacrifice. Spark's prose is, as I've said before, more of an experience than it is anything else. It's really not for everyone and I totally understand that, but I'm so glad that I love it as much as I do and find it absolutely beautiful. This is going to be one of those reviews where I can't get too specific on plot or other details because I don't want to give anything away, but I'll still share all of my non-spoiler thoughts to the best of my abilities.

This installment had a marked shift in the events of the story from the other books. In this story, Marith has essentially taken over almost everything he wants to, Thalia is still by his side, it looks as though there is no end in sight for the victories of his army, and Marith is beginning to lose his marbles a bit. Well, okay, a bit more. Despite some gory moments and occasional sieges, the first half of the book had a sort of lack of urgency that I really enjoyed,. It's not that nothing was happening or there were no stakes, but it just had this sense of normalcy from Marith and his army in how they continually sacked cities that translated really well through Spark's writing and allowed me to really understand that sense of glorified monotony. Soon enough, however, things heated up once again and the stakes were cranked up into something that had me continuously turning the pages. 

The story is split into three parts and within those parts we follow many of the same compelling perspectives as before: Marith, Thalia, Tobias, Orhan, and Landra. I love getting into the heads of Martih and Thalia in particular, two of the most flawed characters who make up the most dysfunctional couple I've ever seen--and yet, somehow, it all works. Orhan is another POV that I always enjoy following. He has this hopeless sense of humor that is full of dread, yet he maintains a very distinct personality that shines through in his chapters. 

The world-building has long been established by this final installment and previous books have included plenty of travel that explores it, but I still enjoyed how much of the world was explored in this book as well. Marith's army travels around to new places during their quest to take over everything, all of it eventually coming a head in the golden city of Sorlost. This is a harsh world that feels entirely unpredictable most of the time (especially thanks to the help of some pretty intense dragons) and always manages to keep things unpredictable. Something about the world that might seem sort of minor that I love is how Spark manages to include a glimpse into what the 'regular' people of this world are doing. It's not anything that takes up much space or time in the novel, but the occasional mention in the narrative or dialogue remark from a character that notes how civilians are reacting to these events, how it takes so long for news to travel to them, etc. just really stood out to me and added a certain level of credence to the story that I appreciated. 

If you were worried that this book was any less intense than the previous two, then I'm here to allay your fears: there's plenty of gore and violence, all done in a style that is both poetic and blunt at the same time. Spark just has this way of using language to effortlessly both convey and evoke a wide variety of emotions in her readers and to build a strong atmosphere. Even though the plot itself didn't feel as intense--at least in the first half--as I mentioned before, the brutality of this world and those within it was not lessened at all. The ending was bittersweet, both tragic and beautiful in its own right and I couldn't have asked for anything else. Every character arc left me feeling wholly satisfied with their fate, though I am sorry to see the end of their--and my--journey in this world. I have no idea what Spark plans to do next, but I have high hopes for anything she writes and will be first in line to check it out.

Overall, I've given The House of Sacrifice five stars! If you've enjoyed the first two books in this trilogy, then I have no doubts that you will always love this one.

*I received an ARC of The House of Sacrifice courtesy of Orbit books in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating or enjoyment of the novel.*

1 comment:

  1. I love that first cover especially. This is a new series for me but it sounds great! And dragons too? I need to take a look at this one.